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Commission approves access road to proposed Costco

East Lyme — The developers of Gateway Commons, a planned residential and commercial village, received unanimous approval from the Zoning Commission Thursday to build temporary roadway infrastructure in preparation for opening a Costco store.

The developers presented a site plan for an interim access road, with an entrance located just south of the Eversource substation on Flanders Road (Route 161), to the development's property.

Interim on-and-off ramps for Interstate 95 southbound's Exit 74 would connect to the access road, so cars would travel through the access road to exit and enter Flanders Road, according to the plans.

Theodore Harris, an attorney for Simon Konover of West Hartford and KGI Properties of Providence, said the temporary improvements will safely and efficiently handle traffic so a Costco can open.

More significant improvements to the Flanders Road corridor are in the works for the future, he said. The state would likely require these additional improvements to mitigate traffic from additional stores, beyond the Costco.

Harris called the application for the temporary infrastructure the "beginning of the commercial phase" of the development. He said he anticipates an application for the Costco site will be filed in January with the town's Inland Wetlands Agency, and would next go before the Zoning Commission.

He said Costco will act as "the anchor" parcel to attract other retail outlets to the site. Gateway's master plan allows up to 425,000 square feet of retail space with one big-box anchor store and up to five "junior anchor stores."

The Zoning Commission previously approved a revision to the location of the access road as part of the master development plan.

Harris said the Office of the State Traffic Administration has approved the location of the proposed access road as a temporary measure. But the state wants the road in its original location as a long-term solution, he said, and has told him it will assist with this effort.

The state Department of Transportation is planning a nearby project in the future to replace and lengthen the I-95 bridge over Flanders Road. The DOT is planning improvements to Route 161 in the area and the Exit 74 interchange, DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said in a phone interview prior to the meeting.

Nursick said design work for how to best improve the area is still in its infancy.

Newton Brainard, vice president of Simon Konover, said the developers are in constant communication with the state DOT.

k.drelich@theday.com

Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

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